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On Aug. 22, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) debuted an online Sharing Economy Resource Center to help taxpayers better understand how to file taxes for income earned through ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, or from renting out rooms and houses on platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.
Establishment of this online resource center is a clear sign that the federal government both recognizes the growing popularity of these services and knows that it is not capturing all the tax revenue it can from this activity.
“This rapidly evolving area often presents new challenges for people engaged in these economic activities, whether they are renting a room or providing a ride,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “The IRS is working to help people in this area by providing them the information and resources they need to file accurate tax returns.”
In addition to helping taxpayers better understand what they are required to pay in taxes, the center also addresses what issues companies like Airbnb and Uber need to consider when filing their own taxes, and defining someone as an employee or an independent contractor.
One area not addressed by the resource center involves local laws regarding tax payments in certain jurisdictions. For example, if you live in the city of San Francisco and legally rent out your home on Airbnb, you have to pay certain taxes to the city and you must also register with the city’s Office of Short-Term Rentals.
Here are some tips for U.S. taxpayers participating in the sharing economy, straight from the resource center:
1. Even if you’re earning income and not receiving a 1099 form or W-2 from companies like Airbnb or Uber, you generally have to pay taxes on that income, even if it’s just a part-time activity.
2. But good news: You can deduct certain business expenses. If you use your car as a ride-share driver, you can claim a standard mileage rate of 54 cents a mile this year, for example.
3. There are “special rules” that apply to the rental of a home or apartment that a taxpayer uses as a residence and you have to report rental income in full. Any expenses you incur have to be split up between personal and business purposes and there are special deduction limits.
4. But if you’re an occasional short-term rental host — meaning you rent out your personal residence for less than 15 days a year — you don’t have to report that income and your rental expenses can’t be deducted.